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Council approves part-time help for Auditor’s office

The Harrison County Council provided funding for two part-time employees totaling 40 hours a week for the Auditor’s Office at their meeting Monday night, despite the Auditor’s best efforts to gain a 30-hour position with benefits.
Harrison County Auditor Pat Wolfe, with the blessing of the Harrison County Commissioners, requested two part-time positions each at 29 hours a week costing a total of $30,000 or one full-time position for 30 hours a week costing about $22,000.
‘Yes, we support it,’ said Commissioner James Goldman. ‘It’s the busiest office in the county.’
Besides the property tax situation, Wolfe said claims have become a big issue this year, with many people turning in claims incorrectly and the time it takes to go through and correct them. The state rebate checks have also added to the confusion.
‘We’re answering the phone like mad,’ said Wolfe.
‘You have begun to see since June, the Auditor’s Office has been going down,’ said Wolfe, ‘I think it’s because we’re overwhelmed. With all of us working together, we can’t get the work done.’
‘You know how the council feels about making another position outside of budget time,’ said Council chair Carl (Buck) Mathes. ‘I personally don’t uphold the request. It’s a backdoor way to get a full-time position.’
‘I’m trying to leave this office better than when I came in,’ Wolfe continued. ‘I can’t get the quality with someone part time. As soon as a full-time position comes around, they’re gone.’
Wolfe said a full-time position would guarantee a quality person who understands the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
‘Some people accused me of bringing the IRS in here,’ said Wolfe. ‘I did not bring the IRS in here. But they’re going to stay; from now on, they’ll be involved.’
Councilwoman Leslie Robertson asked Wolfe what the new employee would do.
Wolfe said they would help with payroll, claims and other office jobs. The person would ‘float’ around helping each deputy, she said.
‘I still don’t know why we can’t cross-train from other (county) departments,’ said Councilman Chris Timberlake. ‘We’re talking about county general (fund), the taxpayers’ money. They’re watching it very closely, as they should.’
‘If we approve this and someone else asks for a full-time (position), I’m going to say I told you so,’ said Mathes. ‘If you’re going to approve it, you might as well make it a 40-hour full-time position. I don’t see a difference in the barrels of worms it opens up.’
The council unanimously approved $20,700, with a 5-0 vote (Councilwoman Rhonda Rhoads was absent). That would work out to be about 20 hours a week for two part-time positions at $11.98 an hour.
In other business Monday night, the council heard an additional request of $500,000 for the Boone Township Fire Dept.
‘I guess as you all probably know, it’s been a long, dragged out fight,’ said Roger Creal, Boone Township Fire District board member.
The township had three unsuccessful attempts to receive a grant through the Community Focus Fund offered through the Indiana Office of Rural Affairs.
‘We’ve done a tremendous amount of work,’ Creal said. ‘We’ve contacted every agency we could get information from.’
The plan is to keep the existing firehouse and add four bays on the Laconia side of the building, he said.
‘We would like to build,’ said Creal. ‘We have no place to train. We have five vehicles behind four doors, which is a no-no. We desperately need the firehouse. Boone Township by far and away is the most needy fire department in Harrison County.’
The fire department also has applied for help from the Harrison County Community Foundation.
The project has been approved by the state, Creal said.
‘We’ve done everything by the book,’ he added.
The council will vote on the additional at its next meeting, Monday, March 10, at 7:30 p.m.
Other additionals approved Monday night included $1,288 for the Auditor’s plat book fund, and $6,000 for miscellaneous legal services and consulting. From riverboat money, $11,000 for non-reimbursable court costs; $75,000, Blue River Services Inc. vehicle maintenance facility; $250,000, Milltown bridge project; and $2 million for the three public school corporations.